It's a sad day for collectors of brocade coin purses, Kung-Fu shoes with plastic soles, ceramic miso soup spoons, braided diamond knot tassels, and packs of accordion festival lanterns: Pearl River Mart will not be renewing its lease at 477 Broadway in Soho when it expires in December, Crain's reports.

Crain's reports that Pearl River's rent, currently hovering over $100,000 per month, will leap an astounding amount next year, to more than $500,000 per month. In addition to brick-and-mortar woes, there's also Amazon and Alibaba to contend with.

Pearl River Mart was co-founded in 1971, under the name Chinese Native Products, by company president Ching Yeh Chen, her husband Ming Yi Chen, and a group of student activists from China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. According to a press release, Ming Yi Chen's first shipment of products for the shop, which arrived in New York City by cargo ship, marked the first delivery of Chinese products to American shores in more than twenty years (this was right around the time Nixon lifted the trade embargo).

The Chens' original store location was on Elizabeth Street in Chinatown. Taking the name Pearl River in 1978, the store made a pit-stop on the corner of Canal and Broadway in 1986 before settling into its current location, 30,000 square feet across three floors, in 2003.

This morning, Open City Mag posted a moving essay by the Chens' daughter, Michelle, about growing up in Pearl River Mart, and a more thrilling Manhattan:

Inside the store, my parents managed a unique enclave of the city. Throughout the 1980s, they worked up to 60-hour weeks with a few dozen staffers. Some of that time was spent handling the wholesale business. The rest was spent helping English-speaking customers pick the perfect party favor or prom dress, catching the occasional shoplifter, scrubbing toilets and dealing with cops concerned with contraband issues, like counterfeit products or unauthorized knives for sale. I spent a good part my childhood wandering among the burgeoning shelves, though my earliest vivid memory from that time is getting struck by a misfired bottle rocket on the street during the Chinese New Year celebration.

The recreational missile strike stung, but not nearly as much as the pang I feel now as I remember those wilder early days of Chinatown—when it was overcrowded and foul—and compare them to the Chinatown of today, which is relatively silent on the Lunar New Year, ensconced in a post-Giuliani, post-broken windows “quality of life” atmosphere where firecrackers are basically outlawed. Mott Street’s homegrown pyrotechnics are now barred as a nuisance, even a security threat. The streets are much safer now.

Ming Yi Chen added, in a statement, "When we first opened our doors, my colleagues and I simply wanted to create a small window into the Chinese culture. The recognition we've received over these four and a half decades has been a wonderful validation of our original vision. If we did our job right, Pearl River will continue to live on in the hearts and memories of our customers."

While the beloved Chinese everything-mart plans to maintain its e-commerce site for its 15,000-and-counting items, it's difficult to bump into a hand-embroidered ornamental butterfly en route to the children's practice chopsticks on the Internet.

"We truly believe that to have a strong and modern website, and take advantage of the social media, is one of the major things that Pearl River has to do," Ching Yeh Chen told us this morning as the news spread, adding that "a brick-and-mortar of a much smaller size would be important too, because that's part of Pearl River. People can spend hours here!"

Those still grasping for a silver lining this morning might be pleased to learn that Pearl River Mart hopes to keep "many" of their current staff members going forward, most of whom have worked for the company for more than twenty years.

Nathan Baden, the owner of Pearl River's retail space, tells Crain's he's still negotiating with the Chens, and says Pearl River "might end up staying on another floor." But Chen insists they're done with that location, telling us, "We'll find a place off the beaten path, maybe south of Canal Street. A smaller place."

Until they close, the discounts on Broadway will be huge. According to Chen, "We have a collection of big items, like statues of soldiers and the big Buddha, that are already 50% off. I don't think many people realize that yet. There's also the marble lion, which is very unique. If you go to China today, you might not even be able to find it."